I first learned about Gosnell in January 2011 from a link to an article in Philly.com, reporting on his arrest and formal indictment on eight counts of murder and related charges. The trial of Gosnell began last month, and other than conservative websites and news sources, it is almost impossible to find a story in the mainstream print press until a few days ago, and as of the time of this writing, there has been ZERO coverage of the story by the major broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS). The travesty of the media blackout was captured in an article in Investors Business Daily, which wrote:
“Media Bias: A basketball coach who shoves and curses at his players merits constant coverage by a media also transfixed by Newtown. But a Philadelphia doctor on trial for murdering a woman and seven babies? It’s ignored. … Those who get their news from the three major networks have probably not heard of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, now on trial in Philadelphia, charged with seven counts of first-degree murder and one count of third-degree murder for killing seven babies who survived abortions and a woman who died after a botched pain-killer injection…
“According to the Media Research Center, in one week Rice received 41 minutes, 26 seconds of air time on ABC, CBS and NBC in 36 separate news stories. Gosnell received zero coverage… If Dr. Gosnell had walked into a nursery and shot seven infants with an AR-15, it would be national news and the subject of presidential hand-wringing.”
So why is it that a college basketball coach with anger management issues, or the idiotic comments about rape uttered by GOP Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Murdock during the 2012 elections, or even the latest gossip about Kim Kardashian, manages to get more coverage than this story?
At this point I feel compelled to issue a warning to the reader. This story is horrifying in its inhumanity, gruesomeness and unbridled evil. It is not for the tenderhearted. It is incredibly disturbing, and will leave you shaken. Please do not continue if you are not prepared for what you will learn.
The summary of the Grand Jury report, as excerpted in The Atlantic, tells the story: “This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy — and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors… The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels — and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths.”
Among the accusations of crimes committed in Gosnell’s clinic are these:
Robyn Reid, at age 15, a tiny girl of less than 90 pounds, went to Gosnell’s clinic for an abortion, but decided she could not go through with it. According to Reid, Gosnell “got upset and he ended up taking my clothes off, hitting me, my legs were tied to the stirrups,” where she struggled for half an hour before he was able to finally subdue her, removing all of her clothes, and telling her repeatedly, “This is the same care that I would give to my own daughter.” Reid woke up 12 hours later, the abortion performed, and her never having regained consciousness in the clinic.
Karnamaya Mongar died in Gosnell’s clinic as the result of an overdose of Demerol, a strong pain medication. Paramedics attempted to save Mongar, but the back door was padlocked and she died before they could revive her. Records show regulated pain medicine was routinely administered by untrained, unlicensed staff in pre-set dosages, not calibrated for the specific patient. Records also show that Gosnell recruited those that were poor and emotionally distraught to work for him, paying them under the table to work in his house of horrors.
Most horrifying of all though is the babies. Gosnell is charged with seven counts of murder for killing infants that survived his botched abortion procedures. Witnesses testified that he would take scissors and cut the spinal cords of the babies, even as one witness reported screams from one baby as it was killed, saying “I can’t describe it. It sounded like a little alien.” According to co-defendant Steven Massof, who was hired in 2003 under an unlicensed “residency” program, Gosnell has killed in this manner at least 100 babies which survived his abortion attempts. Masoff said that the procedure was “literally a beheading. It is separating the brain from the body.” He described the scene as “rain[ing] fetuses. Fetuses and blood all over the place.” Gosnell reportedly joked to one woman after he killed a baby that survived his abortion attempt, “This baby is big enough to walk around with me or walk me to the bus stop!” Authorities also found jars of severed body parts and bags containing fetuses scattered throughout the clinic.
It would be easy to soothe our consciences by assuring ourselves this is just a single, terrible, tragic case of an inhumane monster that stayed hidden for decades. It would be easy, but it would be false. Though also getting virtually no coverage in the mainstream media, Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, which receives hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars per year, also has no problem killing babies born alive, as evidenced during testimony before a committee of the Florida legislature last month by Alisa LaPolt Snow, the lobbyist for the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. LaPolt testified that Planned Parenthood believes the decision of whether to kill an infant who survives a botched abortion should be made by the mother and her abortion doctor (she was testifying in opposition to a bill that would require doctors to provide lifesaving treatment to babies that survive abortions).
As gruesome as this all is, is it truly all that surprising? After all, it is simply the real world manifestation of the idea of post-birth abortion that is championed by leftist intellectuals like the celebrated Peter Singer, and the likes of liberal philosophers Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, as published last year in the Journal of Medical Ethics. As disgusting as it is to contemplate, they actually have a good point when they argue that there is little moral difference between aborting a baby in the womb during the third trimester, and killing a baby a few days, weeks or months old. They have roughly the same level of physical development and personal autonomy, and the only difference is their position relative to the mother’s womb.
And therein lies the crux of the abortion argument. Once we accept the idea that life is not inherently sacred, that life only obtains inherent value at a certain point in physical development, or of cognitive ability, or of self-awareness or sovereignty, we are simply debating the relative degrees at which life is no longer valued. If autonomy is the threshold, is it then acceptable to kill off those with, say, Down Syndrome, which rarely ever develop mentally beyond the level of a small child? Does that mean we can start killing off those in long-term comas, or the old and infirm which require constant care? The Gosnell case is an extreme but logical progression of the idea that life is not inherently sacred, and therefore not worth defending. And if we are so callous that were are unwilling to defend the lives of such innocent creatures as these children, can we expect that our lives will be considered worth protecting when we are old and dependent for care? I fear not.